Rural banditry and conflicts in Northern Nigeria

Rural banditry and conflicts in Northern Nigeria

Ipastoralists and farmers in Nigeria have been on the rise. This social conflict has traditionally consisted of disputes over natural resources and is often presented as a conflict between settlers and nomadic people. However, what began as conflict between pastoralists and farmers over land has recently developed into rural banditry with heavy human and economic cost, ranging from the sexual assault of women and girls, attacks on villages, to catte rustling, amongst others. The bandits traversing Benue, Plateau, Niger, Kwara, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano are involved in crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping. There have also been reported cases of rural banditry in Delta, Enugu, Ondo, Oyo and Ebonyi states.

Examining the root causes of rural banditry and social conflict requires an understanding of its historical trajectory, social contexts, development and the dynamics of the often conflictual, but also symbiotic relationship between two production systems (agricultural and pastoral) that not only depend on land and its related resources, but are also fundamentally different in important respects. It is against this backdrop that the researchers undertook a broad interrogation of the economic and social forces that might have triggered the current realities. The 10 chapters of this book focus on wide-ranging issues, including: cattle rustling; animal husbandry; transhumance; grazing reserves; herdsmen and farmers association; media and construction of popular narratives; social impact of the phenomenon; and women's livelihoods.

The findings of the 10 reports reveal that factors which account for rural banditry and social conflicts include: ecological and climate change and consistent shift in the human and livestock population; expansion in non-agricultural use of land; weak state capacity and the provision of security; proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs); rise of criminality and insecurity in rural areas; and weakening or collapse of informal conflict resolution mechanisms.

The reports also draw attention to the international dimensions of rural banditry and social conflicts, from the perspective of the rising incidences of cross-border crimes and how it impacts on the proliferation of SALWs in Nigeria. The book incorporates recommendations to policy makers and other relevant stakeholders that, if considered and implemented, may help mitigate and manage this challenging phenomenon.

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